OCA calls for legislature to change wolf bill language

Apr 24, 2009
by WLJ
OCA calls for legislature to change wolf bill language

Distressed by a documented wolf kill of 29 lambs and one calf on fellow Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) member Curt Jacobs’ Keating Valley, OR, property, the 1,900 members of OCA called on Oregon lawmakers to amend a bill currently before the state legislature to change the language so ranchers could protect their livestock.

“Imagine if a marauder came onto your property to maim, kill and steal from you, and you couldn’t do anything but yell and wave your arms,” said OCA President Bill Moore. “Our animals are our livelihood, our income. And we need to be able to protect them.” Under the current Wolf Management Plan, ranchers can “haze” wolves that have been seen around their livestock, but their hands are tied from taking any action beyond that—even if a wolf is caught in the act of killing his sheep or cattle. OCA members say they are not provided adequate means to protect their private property from wolves—they can essentially make noise to try to scare a wolf away, but anything beyond “hazing” could result in a fine of $100,000 and a year in jail. Oregon sheep and cattle ranchers want the Oregon Wolf Management Plan revised by amending HB 2295 with a change in language to: “A person may ‘take’ a wolf seen attacking, biting, molesting, chasing, or harassing livestock, herding and guarding animals, working and sporting dogs and family pets.” Citizens throughout Oregon were shocked to learn that on Easter weekend, wolves were caught on camera in the act of killing lambs on private property east of Baker City. Oregon sheep and cattle rancher Jacobs says he has lost 29 lambs so far this month, and he reports that only two were eaten.

It was the first documented wolf kill since the animals returned to Oregon in 1999. “The rest of Oregon may be shocked, but we weren’t surprised,” said Rod Childers, OCA Wolf

Committee chair. “Gray wolves have been migrating from Idaho for years, and we’ve had several sightings in recent months. It was only a matter of time that because of these predators, livestock are starting to disappear.”

According to an Oregon State University report, cattle surpassed nursery crops (when excluding greenhouse crops) as Oregon’s No. 1 agricultural commodity, with $664 million in 2008 sales. The report further stated that for the sixth consecutive year, Oregon’s farmers and ranchers have experienced positive sales growth, grossing an estimated $4.9 billion in 2008—the largest total in the state’s history.

“We want the Oregon Legislature and governor to make it a priority to protect the livestock industry in Oregon, and they can help us do that by amending the existing law’s language that makes ranchers powerless to defend their livestock from wolves,” Moore said. — WLJ